Förderpreis Bildene Kunst der Schering Stiftung 2007
January 19th-April 9th
The Ernst Schering Foundation Art award, a bi-annual prize that fosters the development of young German artists, set its sights on sculpture this year. The work of five artists, selected by jury from nominations by ten German cultural institutions was on view at the Berlinische Galerie through April 9th. Iranian born, Berlin based artist Nairy Baghramians won the grand prize, a grant of 10,000 euros. Baghramians, the only woman in the show, creates sparse geometric constructions from mirrors, wood and metal. Within the context of this exhibition, Es ist Ausser Haus (It is Outside of the House), with its impressive formal elegance, stands as an almost cliched example of feminine understatement in a room full of boys . The rough hewn works of the other nominees, all of whom are male, share a charmed appreciation of everyday objects, associations and gestures.
The show begins with a bang. Literally. A sculpture by Marco Schuler depicts two stubby men seated back to back wearing work gloves and dustbins on their heads. One holds a wooden wheel while the other proudly spreads his hands to showcase an erection almost as large as he is. The sexual energy continues in Jan Bünnig's moving, humorous sculptures which are described by the artist as "muddy, solid, slow and alive." Bünnig 's tumescent clay spire has the impressiveness of a monument and the innocent charm of a child's sand castle.
Michael Sailstorfer fuses two loci of masculine aggression in Drum Kit, a drum kit fashioned from the scraps of an LAPD police car. The playful open ended-ness of the piece makes it one of the standouts in the exhibition. The drummer and police man are recurrently imagined as rogue figures, however the police officer only becomes one when teaming up with other officers to create "force." The LAPD is one of the most violent police departments in the United States and the drummer is perpetually cast as the craziest band member in our pop cultural memory. By poetically dislocating both the form and its source material Sailstorfer potentially subverts the efficacy of power and violence.
The most modest and touching work in the exhibition belongs to Hamburg based artist Thorsten Brinkmann. The artist states that his work is born of an interest in exploring the "value of used objects and their relation to human beings." The fashionable dustbin chapeau makes a reappearance Soviel wie möglich auf einmal tragen (All That I Can Carry), a photograph of the artist laden with household appliances and construction materials. True Romans, an infinite series of small sculptures presented on Ikea drawer pedestals, explores the magical use value of recombined everyday objects- a water glass is split in two by a tennis ball lodged inside and a packing balloon is constrained by zip ties. The clumsy tenderness of these gentle restraints and reformations reinvigorate the objects with new life.
Jesi Khadivi is a curator and art critic based in Berlin. She regularly contributes writing about art, film, architecture and pop culture to Dazed and Confused and SOMA, among many other publications. She is also the director of Golden Parachutes, a contemporary art gallery in the Kreuzberg.